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The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved a proposal for introduction of the Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in Parliament.

The Bill envisages a National Dam Safety Authority, which will liaise with State-level dam safety organisations and the owners of dams for standardising safety-related data and practices. The NDSA will investigate dam failures and have the authority to fine the States that are found remiss in implementing safety measures.

It will look into “unresolved points of issue” between the States which share dam territory and look to “eliminating potential causes for inter-State conflicts,” an official release said.

A case in point is the Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala, which is a perennial flashpoint between the State and neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

The Chennai floods of 2015 due to unusually heavy rain were thought to have been compounded by an unprecedented release of water from the Chembarambakkam dam into the Adyar.

Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in India, dam safety is a perennial concern.

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